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Northern Ireland v Switzerland: Controversy as Switzerland score divisive penalty to earn 1-0 win at Windsor

By Gareth Hanna

Controversy has surrounded the first-leg of Northern Ireland's World Cup play-off as the Swiss take a 1-0 lead back to Basel.

The visitors dominated in Belfast but the manner of the 58th minute penalty, sent home by Ricardo Rodriguez, has angered the home support.

Referee Ovidiu Hategan pointed to the spot when a vicious Xherdan Shaqiri shot struck Corry Evans' arm. Windsor was silenced and the Northern Ireland players incensed. To make matters worse, the booking that followed rules Evans out of Sunday's second leg.

What do you think - make your mind up here:

Northern Ireland had endured a tough first half, dominated almost exclusively by the Swiss. Top-scorer Haris Seferovic, the Benfica forward, went closest with a header that tested Michael McGovern but other than that, their territorial advantage created relatively little fruit.

Granit Xhaka did fire a couple of identical early efforts over the bar but NI did a good job of hanging on until the break.

And when the goal finally arrived it came with more than a hint of controversy.

George Saville did add a bright spark to Northern Ireland after his 65th minute introduction but no goals were forthcoming and the world number 11 team go back home with a crucial away goal and a clean sheet.

The second leg is in Basel at 5pm on Sunday.

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